Independence widow regrets not putting killers on trial

08/03/2014 1:00 PM

08/03/2014 6:00 PM

Dana Davis craved justice after three men gunned down her husband at a Kansas City drug house in November 2011.

The plea deal suggested a few months later by Jackson County prosecutors filled her with prolonged bitterness instead.

She understood the prosecutor’s ugly and simple reasoning: Without cooperation from Kody Saulmon, then 19, two other men more culpable in Nathan Davis’ murder likely would walk free.

The case brimmed with other witnesses, but prosecutors had found them unreliable and not credible.

“They said this was the best they could get, this little bargain,” Davis said. “… I disagreed with them but gave in.”

Saulmon had served as the lookout while the other men killed Nathan Davis, 25, during a robbery and dispute over a stolen car. The killers bound his body, left him in a house and set it on fire. Firefighters found the body.

Dana Davis, a nurse, acknowledged that her husband struggled with drug addiction. She’d booted him out of their Independence home after she returned early from work one day and found him smoking crack rather than looking after their son.

She couldn’t reach him the day he died. A few days later, authorities appeared at the door to say they’d found his body.

“It’s all he was trying to do, get back his stolen car,” Davis said. “That’s why they killed him.”

Facing Saulmon’s testimony, Travis Robling and Justin Shimp pleaded guilty. They received prison sentences of nine and 10 years.

Davis hadn’t realized how much she wanted to attend a trial. Hearing the testimony and seeing the evidence, even the crime scene photos, could have helped her put her husband’s murder in the past, she said.

“I believe a trial would have been a better way to go,” she said. “There is still no closure to it. I expected someone to pay.”

Shimp and Robling will have their first parole hearings later this year.

And Saulmon? He’s facing a new felony charge in Jackson County.

Just two months after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter, Saulmon pulled a handgun on a Grandview man and stole his Toyota pickup, according to court records.

Because of that, prosecutors have moved to revoke his probation in Davis’ killing.

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